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On palm oil: what if we said no?

Every day, thousands of animals are displaced from their habitats for the sake of palm oil plantations.

These days, palm oil is in half of all products in the supermarket. It is used worldwide on a devastating scale.

I read an article the other day about a bear. It was so disfigured from malnutrition after its habitat had been destroyed that when it crawled into a palm oil plantation, the workers thought it was an alien.

They beat it unconscious but didn’t have the decency to put it out of its misery. When it woke up, they chased it away to die, frightened, ill, malnourished, alone and in agony.

Aside from the devastating consequences for each individual animal, whole species of animals, birds and plants are becoming extinct due to palm oil.

This is proclaimed to be essential because nothing else possesses the same properties.

And yet it is detrimental to our health. It is high in saturated fats and it also increases our appetites, encouraging obesity.

As well as food, it is used in cosmetics such as lipstick and even toothpaste.

So all this got me thinking. What if we said no?

What if the celebrities, the bloggers, the vloggers and the influencers didn’t advertise products that contained palm oil?

What if the consumers didn’t buy them?

What if we all took the time to read the ingredients and the products that contained palm oil just stayed on the shelves, what would happen then?

What if we as consumers were to regain control from the companies using this horrendous ingredient?

Would all we all turn into bare faced hippies? Would we starve without the processed food that contains palm oil? Would our favourite brands all go out of business overnight?

I don’t think so.

The Guardian recently published an article about an alternative to palm oil that is currently in development. Actually, it’s a yeast that was originally used in wine making. I knew wine would save us all in the end.

Whilst there is some funding into this research, the rate at which forests are being destroyed dictates that there needs to be more.

And while the research is being done, perhaps we could just take a step back from processed food. Perhaps we could use ethical cosmetics, just for a while.

Anyone who has ever dieted will know that cutting out processed food is a great way to lose weight. You will also know how much better it makes you feel.

And if you can’t manage to read ingredients lists before making your food purchases, perhaps you could just make a few changes?

Take margarine as an example. Virtually all margarine contains palm oil and let’s face it, who the hell really needs margarine?

Or lipstick. You may (or may not) be relieved to hear that not all lipstick contains palm oil. So the next time you replace your lipstick, maybe you could consider purchasing an ethical brand that doesn’t use it.

I know it’s easy to bury your head in the sand and pretend this isn’t happening. I know it’s easy to say that it won’t matter if you carry on using palm oil, after all it’s only you. Everyone else can stop.

I know that because I’ve been doing it for years.

But sometimes, there comes a time when we have to do the right thing. What if that time was now, what if we said no?



  1. March 21, 2015 / 5:13 pm

    Thank you so much Natalie, for reading and commenting and also for sharing it. I am also going to be switching to butter for the family. For me personally, I think I’d rather not use it at all, it’s certainly something I would have no hardship at all in doing without. I’m going to make a huge effort not to buy palm oil from now on and I think it will do my health good as well as anything else.

  2. March 21, 2015 / 6:30 pm

    This was such an interesting read and I’ll certainly be looking much more carefully at what’s in the products I buy xx

    • March 21, 2015 / 6:35 pm

      Thank you Hannah, I really appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. I’m so please that you’re going to be looking carefully at your purchases, I think we can all make a small difference.

  3. March 21, 2015 / 6:54 pm

    Beautifully written Natalie (as always) I honestly had no idea just how much palm oil was being used and indeed the devastation it causes until you highlighted it to me the other you say it is all too easy to bury our heads in the sand and ignore the problem. Whilst I can’t promise to never use palm oil ever again just knowing about it will influence my buying decision and maybe eradicating it will be easier than I thought-I’m thinking more cosmetics than food as we don’t eat processed food as a rule. Fantastic article xx

    • March 21, 2015 / 6:59 pm

      Thank you Amy, I really appreciate you reading and sharing this. I think eliminating it in cosmetics should be the easy part – there are at least alternatives that don’t use it. I also can’t guarantee I’ll never use it again, I think it’s in so many things that sometimes we use it unwittingly. But I’m certainly going to do my best.x

  4. March 21, 2015 / 10:21 pm

    It does make you question where our wares our made and how sustainably they’re made!

    • March 21, 2015 / 10:23 pm

      I know, but asking ourselves the question is the first step I think. The more people that use a little less palm oil, the more likely the big companies are to do something about the issue.x

  5. March 23, 2015 / 5:26 pm

    Thank you so much. I’m amazed at how many things contain it, I’m going unprocessed as much as possible!x

  6. May 6, 2015 / 1:57 pm

    This is shocking! I can’t quite get my head around how much is used. Food wise were pretty organic and don’t use processed food. As for products I use a lot and until reading this I never put any thought into it. This has shocked me, more that I haven’t considered it and I am one who usually would. I’ve already had a quick look at what I’ve got and I’m automatically disgusted. I will be changing immediately!! Great pit and am thankful you wrote this!

    • May 6, 2015 / 2:00 pm

      Thank you Martyn, I also put hardly any thought into it before reading an article about it, now I’m determined to do something about it.x

  7. Debbie
    May 8, 2015 / 5:15 pm

    Hi Natalie, it is so sad when in today’s day and age animals and natives are losing their habitat just so big companies can make their money. It is sickening the lengths that people will go to to make money, ruining the world we live in whilst they are at it.

    I am a label checker and I will be on the look out for palm oil in the future.

    • May 8, 2015 / 5:27 pm

      Thank you Debbie, I really appreciate that. I hope to educate people on the issue and make it easier for people to avoid it.x

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